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The Pelkhor Monastery, also called the Wheel of Fortune Monastery, is located in Gyantse at the foot of Mount Zong and is surrounded on three sides by mountains. Architecturally, it represents a combination of stupa and monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. The entire monastery complex is divided into four building units: a monastery courtyard, the Stupa Bakwo, Dratsangs (rooms for Buddhist colleges) and the wall. As an important cultural site, the monastery attaches to the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Built in the Ming Dynasty, the Great Sutra Hall was planned by Raodain Gongsang Phagyi, a Dharma King of Gyantse, and Gelek Palsang, the first generation of Panchen. The monastery was inaugurated in 1425 through a Buddhist ceremony. There are the Great Sutra Hall, the Hall for the Dharma King, the Hall for Guardian Deities, the Arhat Hall and walkways in the monastery. On the left side of the main hall is an statue of the Buddha Maitreja with 8 m high and gold-plated. In this hall you can still admire silk tangkas, 16 arhat figures and various originally designed sculptures. There are still 1049 volumes classical Tibetan scriptures in this monastery, which are important for studding the religious culture of Tibet. In this monastery, there are 17 colleges belonging to the Sakya sect, the Gagyu sect and the Gelug sect. It is a special feature of the Pelkhor Monastery and it is very rare in Tibetan Buddhism that the three sects exit in a monastery at the same time.
The Bakwo Stupa, usually called White Stupa or the Stupa with 100,000 Buddhas, is 42.4 meters high and boasts 14 floors and occupies an area of 2200 m². The foundation is octagonal and the upper part is smaller than the lower one. The stupa has 108 gates and 76 rooms for 100,000 Buddha figures, hence it was named "Stupa with the 100,000 Buddhas". There is a combination of caves and halls in the stupa, and in the middle of the Stupa, two eyes with 3 meters wide are painted on the four gate beams of the Buddha halls in the four directions that symbolize the eyes that see through everything. In the architectural concept, the stupa and monastery courtyard complement each other, which is also a prime example of a combination of architecture, painting and sculpture. Stylistic elements of Buddhist art from India and Nepal as well as architecture from the inland can also be found here. The buildings in this unique style are still intact today. The monastery is a monument and also a museum of Tibetan art and is unique in China.
The unique architectural style of the monastery and the valuable sculptures and murals stored in it have attracted numerous art connoisseurs and tourists. A large number of sculptures, murals and carvings can be seen in this monastery. Among all these art treasures, Buddhist murals are the most famous. Mainly located in the various halls of the stupa and on the third floor of the main sutra hall, these murals are in accordance with the esoteric direction of Buddhism. In contrast, the presentation of the exoteric direction of Buddhism focuses on the publicity of Buddhism and the stories of historical figures, which can mainly be seen on the fourth floor of the stupa, in the Pure Land Hall on the ground floor and in the walkways of the monastery. The wall paintings of the Pelkhor Monastery play an important part in the history of Tibetan painting and emerged from a harmonious fusion of the striking Ladui style with the Nanning style and then have developed into a lively, self-contained style, which is referred to as the Gyantse Style. The wall paintings of the Pelkhor Monastery are considered to be the representative works of the mature art of Tibetan Buddhism in the 14th and 15th centuries and also a symbol of the heyday of Tibetan Buddhist art in the 15th century.